BOSTON – Cubs vs. Red Sox isn’t all about frenemies, grudge matches and stealing blueprints.
There’s also the unique father-son relationship formed while driving from Cleveland through Ohio, to places like Akron, Mahoning Valley and Buffalo, N.Y., when John Farrell worked as the Indians farm director and brought his boys along for the ride.
Farrell is now the Red Sox manager with the square jaw and the big-picture vision, guiding the team through last year’s worst-to-first turnaround, representing the city after the Boston Marathon bombings.
His middle son, Shane, 25, works as an amateur scouting assistant for the Cubs, the beginning of a career he hopes will include another World Series run, a vision that started with all those trips to minor-league affiliates, seeing a young Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore after the big Bartolo Colon trade with the Expos.
“A lot of time spent in the car,” Shane recalled. “But most of it was spent at a baseball field somewhere, and I usually had at least one of my brothers with me. So during the game, we’d be in the cage for most of it, just hitting and messing around and stuff like that. We’ve grown up with it, grown up around it. There’s been nothing better in our minds.”
His older brother, Jeremy, is a Double-A infielder in the White Sox system. His younger brother, Luke, pitched at Northwestern University and got drafted by the Royals last year in the sixth round.
Shane’s path came into sharper focus while pitching at Marshall University, where his right arm would go numb. He got diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which ultimately required the surgery after his senior season that took out a rib.
“It was just kind of a messy, messy situation, but it led me to where I am today,” he said. “No regrets. It’s probably a blessing just to get things started a little bit earlier.”
Shane connected with Peter Gammons, the Hall of Fame journalist, and started filing reports on players in the Cape Cod League that were sent out to front offices. Shane had met Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod – they worked with his father in Boston – but he didn’t really know the Cubs executives heading into the interview.
“It’s been something that we struggle with at times,” Shane said. “Just because people that don’t know us personally may think that we’re given things based on who we are and who we know. We don’t look at it that way. All three of us work as hard as we can and look to make a name for (ourselves).
“And I don’t think these guys (in Chicago) would really look at it that way either. They wouldn’t let me get by on that.”
[KAPMAN BLOG: Two MLB scouts analyze Cubs' Bryant vs. Baez]
Shane is learning the business now, seeing players for the draft, being the contact person for scouts on the road, coordinating coverage schedules, doing administrative work and synthesizing information that comes into the office. He showed Team USA around Wrigley Field last summer, when future first-round pick Kyle Schwarber took batting practice before a game against the Cardinals.
The Farrells had another family reunion last October. Shane scouted an amateur event in Jupiter, Fla., traveled to St. Louis for Game 5 and went back to Boston for Game 6. The Red Sox finished off the Cardinals and clinched their first World Series at Fenway Park since 1918.
“We were actually in the tunnel (leading) up to the dugout in the bottom of the ninth,” Shane recalled. “So as soon as the last out was made, we actually got to go on the field right there. Everybody was out there. It was kind of a surreal moment. It’s something everybody dreams about. I can’t wait until we do it here.”